Opening Week- Melbourne: Foundations of a City

7 May to 12 May- Public Program

Did you know that the first attempt to settle Melbourne was in 1803? Or that Melbourne was the first capital city of Australia? New displays at the Old Treasury Building trace the growth of Melbourne, from the earliest European settlements, to Federation, when Melbourne became the interim capital city of the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia.

Join us for a week-long celebration from 7 May to 12 May for free talks and giveaways.


Sunday 7 May

10am- ‘Colonial Melbourne’ walk with Kenneth Park.
This meandering walk (which will also make use of CBD trams) starts at the Old Treasury with a look at the Colonial Melbourne exhibition before venturing onto the streets to highlight the story of Melbourne in the colonial era. The walk will start at the Old Treasury Building and finish at the State Library of Victoria.
$25 per person. Bookings: 9606 0501 or

2:30pm- ‘Bushrangers and Other Folk’ with the Victorian Folk Music Club.
Victorian Folk Music Club will be adding to the atmosphere of the Wild Colonial Boy Exhibition with their presentation of Bush Ranger and Bush songs.
The Victorian Folk Music Club is Victoria’s oldest! Founded in 1955, the club has continued to preserve, research and popularise our Australian Folklore Heritage. The Victorian Folk Music Club, preserving Australian Heritage through song!
FREE performance. Bookings essential

Monday 8 May

11am- ‘Melbourne: From Village to National Capital’ with Margaret Anderson
In 1836 the town that would be Melbourne was little more than a scattering of tents near the Yarra. Less than a generation later it was home to 125,000 people and about to overtake Sydney as the largest colonial city. The rise of Melbourne as a New World city was the wonder of the age, as gold, then land boom, created ‘Marvellous Melbourne’. In this introduction to new exhibitions at the Old Treasury Building historian Margaret Anderson discusses the extraordinary history of Melbourne, from its origins, to the modern metropolis that became the first capital of the new nation of Australia.
FREE talk

2pm- ‘Melbourne: 1901 Australia’s First Parliament’ with Jack Norris
FREE talk

Tuesday 9 May

11am- ‘Ned Kelly’ with Faye Dennis
FREE talk

2pm- ‘Paintings of Early Melbourne’ tour with Jackie Leslie.
$8 per person. Bookings essential: 9651 2233 or

6pm- ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ with Prof Graeme Davison
Professor Graeme Davison is one of the foremost scholars of Melbourne’s history. Author of the classic The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, and many other works, there is no better guide to the history of the city. In this lecture Professor Davison reflects on the nature of the city contemporaries called ‘Marvellous Melbourne’, and on the rich pictorial evidence remaining from the time. 
Gold coin donation. Bookings essential


Wednesday 10 May

11am- ‘La Trobe’s Melbourne’ with Dr Dianne Reilly AM, CJ La Trobe Society.
When Charles La Trobe arrived in Melbourne in October 1839 Melbourne was little more than a scattering of tents and huts. In 1854, when his term as Lieutenant Governor ended, he left a city of some 70,000 people and a colony in the grip of gold fever. These were the formative years of Melbourne, as it gradually assumed the shape that would become the city we know today. Dr Dianne Reilly, an authority on both the early years of Melbourne and on the life of Charles Joseph La Trobe, introduces the city to us. 
FREE talk. Bookings essential

2pm- ‘Melbourne: Life During WWI’ with Dr Judith Smart, Royal Historical Society Victoria
Victorians responded in a variety of ways to the call to arms in 1914. Patriotism, excitement anxiety, and opposition all featured. But as the war dragged on, community divisions deepened. Rising prices, stagnant wages and food shortages increased hardship for workers and the poor, producing angry food riots in the streets. The conscription issue also split the community as never before, with bitter public debates dividing families, organisations and political parties. Women were especially active in these causes, leading anti-war and anti-conscription protests and organising the cost-of-living demonstrations. Dr Judith Smart is an historian of wartime Melbourne and the roles of women at this turbulent time.
FREE talk. Bookings essential

Thursday 11 May

11am- ‘Melbourne and the Gold Rush’ with Ian Watts
FREE talk

2pm- ‘Melbourne: 1860s and 1870s’ with Sophie Shilling
FREE talk

5:30pm- ‘Twilight Tour of Old Treasury’ with Ivar Nelsen, Heritage Architect.
Join us in the early evening at the Old Treasury for a tour with a difference. 
Start with a welcome glass of bubbles and then enjoy all the highlights of the building on a personally guided tour.
Visit the Executive Council Chamber and the 1920’s Caretaker apartment. View the photographic panoramas in the historic gold vaults and the Chief Secretary’s Office on the ground floor. View selected paintings of early Melbourne from the Roy Morgan Research Centre collection and some of the Victoria’s archival treasures from Public Record Office Victoria.
Above all enjoy the delights of this magnificent building, widely recognised as one of the finest examples of nineteenth century architecture in Australia.
$25 per person, includes refreshments. Bookings essential

Friday 12 May

11am- ‘1880s Melbourne’ with Helen Marson
FREE talk

2pm- ‘Paintings of Early Melbourne’ tour with Jen Ferneyhough.
$8 per person. Bookings essential: 9651 2233 or